It’s your dream to see the sunset over the Eiffel Tower or the beautiful Underground River of the Philippines but you could never afford it in a million years. Not so fast! By the end of this article I’m going to reveal my number one secret how to travel with no money! I haven’t seen this on any other blog but today you’re going to get it for free!
So, without further ado let’s go over some methods of cheap or free travel you’ve probably heard before and why they suck.
Fly Free With Airline Miles…Not!
There are many websites out there advising people to get a credit card so you can accumulate points and miles for free flights. They’ll tell you some story of a guy that travels first class all the time being handed Martini’s by girls in bikinis. Don’t believe the hype! Credit cards are a terrible idea and I would never ever advise someone to get a credit card just for the miles. The only thing a credit card will do is put you in debt.
Even if you do manage to pay off your balance every month on average customers spend 20% more when they use a credit card versus cash! The real reason so many sites recommend credit cards is because *whispers* credit card companies pay high affiliate commissions. What’s worse is a lot of those cards have restrictions and make you jump through hoops to actually use the miles anyway! If you want cheap flights the best search engine I’ve found is Kiwi.com
House Sitting? Hmm maybe…
House sitting is an often advised way of free travel. That can be good way for free accommodation but there are some drawbacks that you really need to consider. First of all getting someone to let you house sit for them isn’t easy. There are way more house sitters than houses that need sitting.
Another thing you need to know is that most people seeking house sitters are looking for couples only. Then of course there are always the house sitting nightmares. This young lady discovered her house was infested with fleas! Yuck! House sitting can work if you can find a good home owner willing to accept a newbie and a single person.
Check out Mindmyhouse.com to know more about house sitting.
Teaching English? Only if You Love Kids!
Me teaching English in Mexico
Ah yes, just go to another country and teach English to pay for your travels. Many have this idea and it can work if you go to Asia, especially S. Korea. But there are some severe drawbacks that you need to know about before going this route.
The first being just because you’re a native speaker it doesn’t mean you can teach English. Teaching is a gift and its not meant for everyone. It’s not just a part time job like working at burger king. Good teaching requires a ton of patience and work. Especially if you plan to teach the little ones which you mostly will by the way.
If your heart is not in teaching I suggest you stay away from this job. Remember, this has an impact on the lives of little children. But that’s not what makes it bad way to travel with little or no money .
Here’s why teaching English to make money abroad isn’t a good idea:
- Expect to be paid late (and sometimes not at all)!
- The pay sucks Unless you’re teaching English in S. Korea, Saudi Arabia, or some other first world nation it will be difficult to make enough money to cover your expenses. In Chile, for example, English teachers receive minimum wage! Talk about a confidence blow!
- Racism I hope I’m not the first person you’re hearing this from but if you’re not white its going to be more difficult to land English teaching gigs abroad; especially in Asia. An acquaintance of mine was a hiring coordinator of an English school in Vietnam. He told me that he was told under no uncertain terms by his boss that he was only to hire white people. When he called her out on it she insisted she wasn’t a racist but that’s what the parents want to see.
- It eats up a lot of your time If you want to earn anything near a livable salary you’ll have to work at least 25 teaching hours per week. Notice I said teaching hours. That’s not counting the lesson planning, the paper grading, the conferences and unpaid meetings you’ll have to sit through. Once you factor in those things in you’ll be working more hours than you did back home making barely enough to get by.
Wwoofing Means Working! A lot…
WWOOF stands for World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms. It’s a platform that allows you to work on a farm in exchange for free room and board. It’s a good way to save money on housing (since you live for free) and see a destination in-depth while and get to know the great outdoors. You have to pay to get to the farm, but once you are there, everything else is covered!
What they don’t tell you is you have to pay wwoof usually around $30 but here’s the thing there is no international wwoofing organization so you have to buy another membership for every country that you wish to wwoof in! Also, if you wwoof expect to work long hours in not always the best conditions. Some wwoofers report being housed in deplorable conditions and given little food. One blogger reported being fed rice and beans every day.
[A] negative characteristic of some of the farms is inappropriate alimentation. While I had to be satisfied with the same plain plate of rice and beans twice a day for a month, David complained about the scarcity of food. His daily menu consisted of two slices of feta cheese, two tomato slices and about a tablespoon of honey for breakfast, a few pieces of bread and very watery soup for lunch. Dinner was a bowl of pasta with a little bit of oil on top.
“On the fourth day I even had to tell him [the owner] that we had to stop working because our bodies have been shaking really badly.”
That being said many others have had positive experiences. You have to go in with the right mindset and wwoofing is not for everyone. One of the principle problems I have with wwoofing is most of these farms are for-profit businesses. I personally don’t like the idea of paying to work for free in order to help someone else get rich.
Hitchhiking! Can Be Dangerous
Hitchhiking is often touted as a great way to travel around. Honestly, I hitch hiked in Chile and it was kind of fun actually. However it can be quite dangerous. You have no idea who’s picking you up and if you are female there are additional concerns as well. If the guy that picks you up is a creep it would be hard to get out of the car for example.
Another concern is you could end up getting stuck. I was hitchhiking in Death Valley California once and I managed to get a ride to where I wanted to go but I couldn’t get a ride back to my campsite! I just went on foot and that was fine until I ran out of water. I finally found a payphone and called 911 to get a ranger to take me back to my campsite.
Stay With Locals for Free! Meh
There are many services that connect travelers with locals who are willing to let them stay with them for FREE. Using these sites, you will never have to pay for accommodation. My experience is with couchsurfing.com
I personally couchsurfed through South America. It was fun and you can meet a lot of interesting people and make some really great new friends. I’m still friends with some of my hosts. I was even engaged with a friend of my former hosts!
Things to consider:
- Your accommodations will vary. When I couchsurfed my accommodations ranged from my own room with an ocean view to someone’s filthy living room floor. You must be flexible for couchsurfing to work!
- Sometimes it can be difficult to get a host if you have a penis. A lot of people prefer to host females and some for more sinister reasons than others.
- You may not get along with your host. I had one host that rode me the whole time I was there. We had agreed for me to stay 4 days but I left after 2 because of his attitude. Another host I had wouldn’t shut up about how eating meat is murder and how vegans are so enlighten compared to everyone else.
- Your host may live far away from the city center or anything interesting. If you’re having to travel 1-2 hours (assuming you’re using public transportation) to get to anything interesting that can hamper your trip big time. Especially if you want to do any evening or night time activities.
- Some hosts may have ulterior motives for hosting travelers. When I went to the Philippines I was looking for a host in Manila. One guy agreed to host me and asked for a video call (many hosts do this). ‘Okay no problem’ I thought. It’s interesting that during the call he told me he was busy and could probably only host me one night. Afterwards “oh hey let me show you my apartment”. He showed me his living room and his bedroom and then pointed the camera at the mirror where he was naked. Not sure why he chose to do it that way since it, hopefully, wasn’t his biggest asset. Then h e asked me ‘is it true what they say about Black men?”. I just ended the call.
The Main Problem
The main problem with traveling with little or no money using these methods is that you’re always dependent upon the generosity of strangers. You’re dependent upon your host being nice to you. You’re dependent on getting a cool person to give you a lift on the side of the road.
It’s funny how we change as we age. In my 20’s I couchsurfed and hitchhiked but now in my 30’s I can’t imagine staying at some random person’s house or getting in someone I don’t know’s car and that being fun. Traveling and vacations have taken a different meaning for me I suppose. I like to relax and have everything taken care of when I travel. That’s why I love booking package tours. If you don’t have much cash but you still want to relax then read my secrets on how to do just that!
Free Travel Secret #1
Points are your friend! No I’m not talking about credit card points. Have you heard of Points.com? It’s a a points collecting site that lets you collect points from all of your favorite rewards programs and use them for travel and gift cards.
Manage all your loyalty program balances in one place: your Points Loyalty Wallet. Add programs to your wallet by entering your account information, and we’ll show you all of your balances at a glance, updated in real time. Currently, you can track over 100 programs.
I use it all time because it’s an instant way to save on everything you buy, including travel accommodations.
You can even gift miles (or receive) miles from other people!
- Sign up for Points.com here using your email address (it’s free).
- Use the Points.com portal the next time you need to shop online (it’s connected to thousands of stores including Walmart, Amazon, and Target).
- Build up your favorite balances faster by using your wallet to move points and miles between your loyalty programs. There’s no fee to exchange points or miles between your programs.
Free Travel Secret #2
My biggest travel secret is to enter into free travel contests! It’s amazing how many people pass up on the opportunity to travel for free just because they don’t want to give out their email address. I understand you’re worried about scams but many reputable companies offer free trips to promote their business.
My favorite is Tourradar. They’re a multi-day tour broker that seeks to become the TripAdvisor or Viator of multi-day tours. They connect multi-day tour seekers with reputable tour companies. As of this writing they have a contest to win a free trip every month!
Winning a contest is the best way to go. No manual labor, no lesson plan making, no deplorable working conditions, and lastly no wierdos. What more could you ask for?